In last month’s newsletter article, I shared a quote from Andy Mcilvain, who is the author of the blog Enacted Word. Now that we are further into the season of Lent, it bears repeating:
God deserves more than our attention;
He deserves our affections and focus.
He doesn’t just want us to listen to Him.
He desires us to know Him. He wants us to pursue Him.
We are pursuing the theme “reLENTless” this Lenten season. It is a juxtaposition of sorts. Our Lutheran theology emphasizes God’s relentless pursuit of us. Through his study of scripture, Martin Luther happily discovered that God is the one who lovingly pursues us.
It is not only a part of Lutheran theology, it is the Biblical story. Time and time again, God’s people wander, disobey, flee, and often misjudge God’s love. And, scripture reminds us that even so; relentlessly so, God pursues us, loves us, and welcomes us in, like the prodigal father in Jesus’ parable we know so well as the prodigal son. We tend to focus on the son and how wasteful he was by squandering all his father had given him. But the most extravagance was actually shown by a prodigal father whose forgiveness, welcome, and celebration were beyond anything the son could expect. Rarely do we reflect on the son’s response to that amazing love.
Maybe that is why Lent is such a special time in the church year. There is no doubt that God’s central message to us is that His love is fierce, unending, just, and merciful. And yet, Lent gives us an opportunity to stop and consider our response to that love. Here is where the juxtaposition comes in; God reLENTlessly pursues us, and yet there must be something important about us pursuing Him too. I think that is especially so in our time and culture.
So many things compete for our attention. But Lent reminds us to slow down and consider our relationship with our Lord. And, whenever we are considering our relationship with our Lord, we are necessarily considering our relationship with others and God’s creation. We love God by loving others and by stewarding His gift of creation. We also love God by dwelling in His word so that we might ever more greatly come to understand His love for us and our love for Him.
This Lenten season, I hope you have committed to a reLENTless pursuit of your relationship with God. If you’ve lacked in consistency, start again! Every day is a new beginning with God. Zion has a variety of experiences available for your Lenten pursuits, which you will read about in this newsletter. I hope you have taken advantage of the wonderful devotional written by Zion members, I am especially thankful for that treasure and all who wrote to make it possible.
Take a look at the wonderful opportunities for diving into scripture together—opportunities for middle schoolers, high schoolers, young adults, and us not-so-young adults, too. I’m so proud of the work our staff has done together to make this Lenten season a powerful opportunity for you to focus on your faith. So many opportunities for worship, bible study, service, conversation, and faith building! And to make it simple—Wednesday can be a “no cook” day for you, because our wonderful kitchen crew, under the leadership of Lora Nichols, will serve a soup supper after worship from 6:30-7:15pm.
The weekly offering for parents, grandparents, and other caring adults that our directors of youth ministries have put together is not to be missed. Opening our doors to community leaders who deeply care about youth and have expertise in pursuing our best relationship with God’s young people is pure gift, and yet something that is a necessity for every healthy community. The pressures and challenges our youth face can not be ignored. But, they can be conquered if we love those young people together, welcome them, pray for them, and surround them with loving adults. All are welcome and encouraged to join in every Wednesday night at 7:15pm in our sanctuary, to soak up what these local leaders and our directors of youth ministries are so passionate about.
I pray that you will join in as this community of faith reLENTlessly rejoices in the height, depth, width, length, and strength of God’s love [Ephesians 3]. So that, as Andy Mcilvain writes, you may know the joy and peace that comes from a deep relationship with Jesus, a relationship that deserves your attention, focus, and affection.
Gracious Heavenly Father, as we move toward Holy Week, we are rooted and grounded in Your reLENTless pursuit of us. We give You thanks, that through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, we experience a love that is reLENTless. Amid all that distracts us, may we choose to follow You with a reLENTless purpose and passion. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.